The first debate of the 2012 Presidential election is over and now the pundits and the American people are deciding who won. Just to be fair I feel I need to let you know that I have been and always will be a very liberal democrat. After watching the debate I have to admit I was a little disappointed with the way the President handled things. I could concoct some kind of spin or rationalization that would diminish President Obama’s shortcomings during the debate and leave the impression that I believe Romney lost. But that wouldn’t be the truth and if I go down that road I’ll become everything I abhor about Mitt Romney. His history of misrepresenting the truth, flip flopping, changing his message to suit each crowd he’s speaking in front of (pandering), and spouting outright blatant lies whenever it’s politically advantageous. But like I said, I can’t do that. My conscience and upbringing just won’t allow it. So here’s the truth. President Obama lost this first debate. Simple as that. I’ll get into what this may cost him politically and if it’s as important as some might think later in my post. But first I want to go over what I think were the President’s biggest missteps. The first thing I want to talk about is body language. I picked up on this very early into the debate. Most of the time when Romney was speaking President Obama had his head down writing notes. Romney was facing the President trying to engage him and look him in the eye. This was a pretty big mistake for the President because it made him look passive. No one anywhere in any country, business, organization, etc wants a passive leader. It’s an oxymoron to even put those two words together; “passive leader”. But let me be clear about this because I do not want anyone misunderstanding what I’m saying here. I said it made the President “LOOK” passive. Anyone who can remember Obama vs Hillary four years ago saw from the very beginning that this man is definitely not passive. But in these kind of televised debates perception is more important than truth or reality. Mitt proved that point time and time again.
The second misstep was letting Romney say misleading things without correcting him in the moment. This drove me completely crazy the whole night. I was almost yelling at the television at some points. Here are a couple examples: Mitt said “I don’t have a $5 trillion tax cut.” Which was a seriously bold statement when anyone with a calculator and a little common sense can easily prove that this is a lie. An independent economist at the Tax Policy Center (http://bit.ly/ODj7Mv) have shown that the price tag for Romney’s tax cuts equals about $360 billion in the first year which extrapolates to $5 trillion over a decade. It’s simple arithmetic and for those that don’t believe me I included a link to the Tax Policy Center’s website where you can see it for yourself.
Here’s another example of Mitt misrepresenting the truth: About half way through the debate Mitt says “We’ve got 23 million people out of work or who have stopped looking for work in this country.” It’s true that we do have a lot of people still out of work in this country due to the Republican’s bad economic policies under George Bush, but the actual figure is 12.5 million. Not 23 million. Here’s how slick Mitt manipulated the numbers to lie for dramatic effect in the debate. He counts more than 8 million wage earners who hold part-time jobs as also being “out of work”. Clever but still misleading?
One of the biggest outright lies of the night was when Romney said “Pre-existing conditions are covered under my plan.” He suggested that his health care proposal would guarantee coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions. This is just not true. Under Romney, if you have a pre-existing condition (such as I do) and have been unable to obtain insurance coverage or if you have had to drop coverage for more than 90 days because you lost your job or couldn’t afford the premiums, you would be out of luck. I was born with Sickle Cell and the cost of my medical care throughout my life so far has been upwards of one million dollars. Someone like me needs this pre-existing condition protection to get proper medical care. So for people like me this is a life or death issue. Watching Romney be so careless with the truth and exhibit such a callous disconnect infuriates me to no end. Under Romney’s plan Insurance companies could continue to discriminate and deny people like me coverage. This whopper of a lie was even too big for his campaign staff to stomach. Immediately following the debate Romney’s top adviser had to release a statement saying that Romney “misspoke about his health care plan including pre-existing conditions”.
In my opinion someone who lies so easily has no right to become president. Some people might bring up Clinton as a counterpoint to this statement, but I would ask them to think about what both individuals have lied about. President Clinton lied about straying from his marriage. Mitt Romney has lied about his economic plan, lied about President Obama’s record, lied about details in his health plan and misrepresents many other politically important issues that will affect the direction of this country. Bill Clinton’s lie had absolutely ZERO effect on the welfare of the country and it’s people. That’s why the comparison of the two isn’t even legitimate.
Back to the debate; now the final misstep President Obama made that cost him the debate. Letting Mitt Romney play the bully all night and gain control of the debate format. It was very clear early on that slick Mitt Romney wasn’t going to abide by the debate rules that both parties agreed to prior to taking the stage. President Obama should have seen that coming. I knew even before the debate began that Mitt wasn’t going to keep his word and abide by the rules. That’s just who he is. Mitt Romney believes that rules and laws aren’t meant for wealthy people like himself. His whole attitude and outlook was shaped by the privileged world of wealth that he grew up in. He’s shown us this time and time again. Remember the hate and disdain he showed for the 47% who he deemed as leaches and lost causes because they grew up with financial hardships and work low paying or minimum wage jobs. This man speaks a completely different language when he’s among his wealthy peers. There’s no way he can relate to real Americans and he acts as if it’s a bother to even try. So based on the 47% video, his economic disconnect and his history, the Obama team should have seen the bully takeover coming and prepared ways to counter it.
There are a few more areas where the President could have improved his performance but those are the main ones that ended up costing him this first debate. Now, it remains to be seen whether this changes the polls any and that will be apparent in the days to come, but if we look at past presidential debates where an incumbent lost his first debate, we’ll see that it really has no correlation to winning the White House. Here are the stats:
DeMon’s Debate History Chart:
|YEAR||DEBATE OUTCOME||ELECTION WINNER|
|1976||Incumbent Gerald Ford lost 1st debate against Carter||CARTER WON ELECTION|
|1980||Incumbent Carter lost 1st debate against Reagan||REAGAN WON ELECTION|
|1984||Incumbent Reagan lost 1st debate against Mondale||REAGAN WON ELECTION|
|1992||Incumbent George Bush Sr lost 1st debate against Clinton||CLINTON WON ELECTION|
|1996||Incumbent Bill Clinton won 1st debate against Bob Dole||CLINTON WON ELECTION|
|2004||Incumbent George W Bush lost 1st debate against John Kerry||GEORGE W BUSH WON ELECTION|
|2012||Incumbent Barack Obama lost 1st debate against Romney||??????????????????????|
So history tells us that out of the last 7 presidential debates, three incumbents lost the first debate but still won the election. And an equal amount of incumbents who lost the first debate also lost the election. I’m using this piece of presidential history to make a point. Romney may have won this first debate, but it really isn’t that big of a deal when you put it into the proper perspective. So I want my fellow dems to stop with the doom and gloom. President Obama is still leading in every single poll they’ve taken in the swing states. Romney still has to deal with his likability issues and he has to somehow try and make Americans forget that he wrote off 47% of the country as moochers and lost causes who can’t take responsibility for their own lives and they consider themselves victims. That’s a HUGE hurdle to cross and 5 weeks is a very short time to do it in. It’s time we own up to the loss of this first debate, then move on and find ways to help the president win this election. Let this ignite our resolve and do whatever we can to take an active role in this election. President Obama is only one man and he can’t win all by himself. I can do more, you can do more, we ALL can do more.